Guys, college basketball is today. Like, today. The best sport on Earth comes back to life this year, reanimated by the death throes of baseball. It’s truly beautiful. And this year is extra fun.
No, this list won’t include CU. No, this list won’t include the blue bloods. I know Duke and Kansas and Kentucky are fun every year, that in itself is boring. Lame. This list is reserved for teams, picked from an arduous application and selection through me, that are beautifully constructed. Talent, experience, coaching, SWAG, all are factors considered. This is in order, by the way. The last team is super fun.
That’s right baby, the most overdramatic mascot is back. This team made the NCAA tournament last year, not just because they won their conference, but because they won a bunch of games. And somehow, despite the fact that it is the middest of majors, they keep most of their talent for this year. Vermont has experienced guards in Trae Bell-Haynes and Anthony Lamb, and a coach in John Becker that can coach the hell out of offense. They pass the ball well, play through their starts, and MOVE. If you wanna see pure college ball, look no further than the best thing to come out Vermont since Super Troopers.
I’ve had a coaching crush on Ed Cooley for a while. Much like Tad Boyle, his offensive style is free-flowing. He relies on the lead guard to do his thing and make plays for others. The key is to get an alpha dog and let him work. This works really well when you have Kris Dunn. It also works when you have Kyron Cartwright. The ultra quick, athletic guard is a bulldog, and will blow by anybody in front him. Mercurial talent Rodney Bullock is back at forward, and he loves to shoot from 3. I much prefer when he just attacks the basket. Finally, there is some local intrigue here as Alpha Diallo, an attendee of Lincoln High School in Denver. He is athletic and bouncy, and I’m sure we’ll see him on some SC top 10s. But this team is defined by its starts. Cartwright and Bullock are as exciting as they come.
It hurts me to write this as much as it hurts you to read this. Four years ago, there was no way USC would be the top of the class in the PAC-12. Yet, here we are. Andy Enfield has done a fantsatic job rebuillding the talent on the roster, though it looks like he had some extra help. It’s hard to find a longer, more athletic team. Chimezie Metu is the best defensive big in the PAC-12, Bennie Boatwright is a unique mix of Swaggy P Nick Young (a USC alum) and Taj Gibson (a USC alum). Jordan Matthews is a fantastic defender. But the person that makes this team tick is Jordan MacLaughlin. He is not crazy athletic, nor big at all, but he is so crafty. You have to respect his game. Every lofted finger roll, perfectly executed floater, or backdoor pass is so casual. It is old man game, perfected and modernized. When you watch USC, you watch a team that prioritizes having fun on the court. That doesn’t often result in focused defense, but with the collection of talent this year, it will result in wins.
I just said that it’s hard to find a longer, more athletic team. But, here we are. Cincinnati is the longest, most athletic team in the country (outside of Kentucky). Every position is just a mess of giant arms and springs for legs. This team is experienced (I’m a sucker for seniors), athletic, and aggressive, which is why I like them so much. I consider basketball at its best when the goal of every possession is to find a shot as close to the basket as possible. The bearcats do just that. Despite losing senior grit guard Troy Caupain, they bring back the most talent they’ve had in a while. Gary Clark has been a freigh train his entire career, pushing for baskets up close and playing hard on-ball defense. His length really causes problems for passes, and he can really soar for dunks when he wants. He just does everything you need him to do. But the versatility doesn’t end there. Jacob Evans can defense 1-5, and is a load at 6’6. Kyle Washington and Jarron Cumberland can really score when they want, and they are huge for guards at 6’5. But the big fun factor this year is Cane Broome, a transfer. He is a different beast than the rest of the roster. He’s not particularly long or thick, but man can he fly. Look:
A team with Cincy’s defense and a scorer like Broome on offense is guaranteed some blowouts.
EASY CHOICE. They are named after pirates, they play really fun, and best of all, THEIR BEST PLAYER IS NAMED ANGEL DELGADO. Angel Delgado makes me swoon when he works out of the post. My incorrect infatuation for iso post players lives on in Delgado, who will swallow almost everyone they play. He’s big, agile, relentless on the boards, and LOOK AT HIM RUN:
Delgado is not alone. This senior class is loaded. Khadeen Carrington follows in Isaiah Whitehead’s footsteps as a lethal scorer and passer at PG, and his stroke is smoooooth. Desi Rodriguez is a perfect wing compliment as an opportunistic scorer who can cause matchup problems. But the real star is Delgado, who is the perfect college big man. Other than Bonzie Colson, he will be my favorite player to watch this year, and you should too.